North Fork Primitive Camp

Remember your OUTDOOR ETHICS when enjoying your public lands. Please RECREATE RESPONSIBLY.


The North Fork Merced River joins the main stem Merced River 7 miles downstream from Briceburg. This is a lovely stream that is perfect for swimming in the early summer when the main Merced is too high. Springtime comes early around here (late February — April) and the wildflowers on the slopes of the North Fork Merced can be spectacular. There is a beautiful cascade about 3/4 of a mile upstream from the confluence that makes a great destination for a cool dip on a hot day.

Although most people explore the North Fork as a day outing, it makes a great short or introductory backpacking adventure. The North Fork Merced is approximately a one-hour (2.5 mile) walk from the Railroad Flat campground along the old Yosemite Valley Railroad Grade (also known as the Merced River Trail). Access is by trail or river only. Bring plenty of water or, better yet, pack a water filter.

Permits, Fees and Limitations:

Campfire permits are required for all fires. Fire restrictions that prohibit all fires go into effect each summer (exact dates unknown). Please check for current conditions at: BLM California Fire Restrictions webpage.  No overnight permit is required. Please follow Leave No Trace practices. Pack it in, pack it out. No glass bottles allowed within 1/4 mile of the Merced River.

Please Note: The old Yosemite railroad grade is accessible by vehicles up to the Railroad Flat Campground. Only equestrian, pedestrians, and bicycles are permitted beyond the Railroad Flat Campground.

Helpful Links:


Merced Wild & Scenic River
Merced Wild & Scenic River
Photo by David Greenwood, BLM

Accessibility Description (ABA/ADA)

The North Fork Merced River is not ADA accessible. Access only by rough trail or class IV whitewater boat.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips


Iconograph of a person swimming
Iconograph of a picnic table
Iconograph of a tent
Iconograph of a fish head and a fishing hook on a line
Iconograph of two people wearing backpacks and using walking sticks
Iconograph of a person paddling a kayak


Bureau of Land Management
North Fork Primitive Camp

Geographic Coordinates

37.61342, -120.05697


The North Fork Merced is located seven (7) miles downstream from the Briceburg Visitor Center where it joins the Merced Wild & Scenic River. It can be accessed by trail or river only.